Volcano Coffee is a group started their coffee factory in 1977 and have a small farm on a volcano, Mount Hualalai. Over the years their operation has grown from its core products of 100% Kona and 100% Ka’u coffee to include chocolates and other coffee-based products. They have a processing factory and the capacity to roast 35-60 pounds of coffee at a time on four roasters, according to their Instagram posts. Volcano Coffee sent me one of their Aloha boxes (the coffees you see in the photo above along with a coffee shortbread cookie (yum) and coffee-flavored lip balm, which retails for $34.99 on their website. While they’ve been growing and roasting for a long time, Volcano Coffee’s gift boxes are a new venture to help them break into the European and Asian coffee markets.
I don’t know a whole lot about this coffee itself other than that it is 100% Kona-grown and also roasted by Volcano Coffee in Hawaii. This coffee gets Volcano’s “medium roast” which, to me, is dark compared to most “third wave” coffee approaches and lighter than the average Starbucks roast, so it’s medium-ness depends on your perspective. The beans themselves had a nice visually-even roast level to them with a glossy sheen, but not the pools of oil you’d expect to find in a really dark roast. My somewhat limited experience (I’ve had 3-4 Kona coffees of late) with Hawaiian coffee tells me that darker roasts are common and I don’t know if that’s because it’s the best roast for those beans growing at the relatively low Hawaiian altitudes or if it’s traditional or because much of this coffee is sold to tourists who are putting it through a Mr. Coffee machine and darker roasts generally do better, or what! Personally I don’t mind a bit of a dark roast on a coffee from time to time, so let’s dive in!
As always, I used my usual pourover method with a notNeutral Gino and Kalita 185 filters. I use a 1:16 ratio of 28g coffee to 450g of water. I also experimented making some cafecito (Cuban coffee) with this and that was awesome! This brew went a little faster than usual because of the darker roast and less dense beans, but I still got some tasty cups from this. The aroma on Volcano’s Kona selection was mostly roast notes for me. Not as dark as Starbucks or Peet’s or something like that, but I wasn’t picking up fruits or florals or other nuances. Roast, maybe a little chocolate and some nuts in there, too.
Flavors are along the same lines, as you’d expect. The cup is sweet with low, if any, perceived acidity. The sweetness in this cup has apple and grape-like characteristics and lots of roasted nuts and sweet chocolate tones, too. The finish is pretty dry and it’s an extremely drinkable cup. It would hold up to milk and sugar very well. I did get a nuance of something kind of perfumey, kind of tropical, maybe a bit floral in my sips but I had trouble isolating it to give you more of an impression. It added a bit of complexity and something to “chase” while drinking the coffee. At times that flavor presented as purple grape, too.
For the cafecito, it’s hard for a coffee to not work well, but I figured the darker profile would be a natural for that preparation method. You can read all about Cuban coffee and how to make it in this article I wrote a few months ago. I actually used a Hungarian “Midipress” for my cups, but it’s essentially just Cold War Hungary’s answer to the Moka pot and makes the same type of strong, black coffee as a Moka.
As expected, this made an awesome cup of cafecito-style coffee. With all the sugar and the concentrated extraction method this somewhat dark roast worked perfectly.
I really like this coffee. It’s super easy to drink and while it’s not going to knock your socks off with complexity, it’s delicious and well-roasted. It has roastier, darker tones which I like from time to time, yet it retains some unique characteristics. The problem I usually have with Kona coffee is the fact that it is generally on the expensive side and it is usually roasted so dark that I can’t really tell what I’m drinking anyway, so what’s the point of spending all that money? Volcano Coffee’s Aloha box won’t break the bank and the roast level is pleasing and dark enough that it will work on any coffee machine or prep method while still retaining some individual character. Well done!